Author Topic: Mental Gymnastics  (Read 2083 times)

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Offline Garja

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Mental Gymnastics
« on: August 14, 2012, 10:20:28 PM »
I mentioned this in another thread a few days ago, but I wanted to expound on the topic and have a discussion about it:

I have a legitimate question for the theists on this forum (specifically Christians because I am the most familiar with that religion).  I am curious how someone can seemingly take in all the information available on this site and around the internet and continue to believe in God after looking at all the evidence and lack thereof.  I honestly mean no disrespect, but when I was a theist I would honestly avoid things that called my faith into question; seems like that was probably a good idea because when I started making a real effort to look at the evidence for God and/or Jesus I found it severely lacking.  For the record I participated in what would have been considered fairly advanced Bible study in college and helped lead a separate Bible study, so I’m familiar with the source material.

Just a few points that I have been thinking about the last few months as my beliefs have transitioned.

Jesus himself:
-May have existed, may not.  Historians are not 100% certain, but they lean towards there likely being a rabbi at the time in Judea matching at least some of the Biblical descriptions. How is this not made obvious by an omniscient God?
-Is said to have performed a number of miracles:  No first-hand accounts exist, no one interviews Lazarus 10 years later to see how he is doing.  The majority of the miracles sound like an illusionist’s trick or a faith healing hoax.  Hell, he is said to have cured someone who wasn’t even present… no one ever follows up.

The Bible:
-Gospels of Jesus written between 30 and 40 years AFTER HE DIED.  This means they were stories told orally for years before they wrote it down (ever played telephone?)
-Nothing in the Bible is something that couldn’t have been written by the stone-age sheep herders that they were.
-100s of contradictions.
-Tacitly promotes behavior that is morally repugnant
-People decided what books were supposed to be in the bible and what wasn’t
-Genesis is ridiculous to the highest caliber, Exodus and Leviticus aren’t much better.
-Jewish captivity probably didn’t happen.
-Paul talks about Jesus like he wasn’t a real person.

Arguments for the existence of God:
-Are all really flimsy
-If God created us to be able to use logic, reason, and critical thinking, why when these things are applied to God they seem to point to him not being there?
-Along the same vein, if God knows we are intrinsically curious beings; why make it so all scientific (the way humans discover their world) evidence points to him not being real?
-Prayer has never been shown to have any measurable effect on the world around us.

And that is a really short list, but I dont want to beat a dead horse and im tired.

So, theists... How do you still believe?  I really have no desire to be disrespectful, I just do not know how that works in you mind.  I was a coward and would have avoided websites like this and kept my head buried firmly in the sand. How do you look at all the evidence with anything resembling objectivity and still hold on to your beliefs?
"If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution."

-Benjamin Franklin

Offline muchlove

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Re: Mental Gymnastics
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2012, 11:01:02 PM »
Not quite ready to leap into answering this kind of question on here, but I just wanted to say that I really like the Yoda profile pic.

Offline Karl

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Re: Mental Gymnastics
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2012, 11:25:01 PM »
That is what it is all about. How can educated people believe in fairies. I think humanity as a whole is overrated. But then again, check your instincts, a nice and pretty girl makes your blood flow no matter how stupid she is. |I prersonnaly do not like the ass or whatever view of religion. But the world seems to spin differently.

I wanted to modify this mail and bring tolerance towards gays and all that into the game. I didn't just because I'm lazy.

Offline Garja

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Re: Mental Gymnastics
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2012, 05:37:44 AM »
Not quite ready to leap into answering this kind of question on here, but I just wanted to say that I really like the Yoda profile pic.

Thats cool muchlove, its deep end of the pool, I get that.  Do keep it in mind though  ;)

And thanks, as soon as I saw that pic I knew it had to be my avatar.  First off I am a huge Star Wars geek, and for the purposes of this board its juuuuust the right amount of sacrilegious.
"If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution."

-Benjamin Franklin

Offline Nick

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Re: Mental Gymnastics
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2012, 07:58:36 AM »
I guess it is hard for some to think that we are not special from the rest of life.  God likes us best is the mentality they like.
Yo, put that in your pipe and smoke it.  Quit ragging on my Lord.

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Offline willwgp86

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Re: Mental Gymnastics
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2012, 10:17:58 AM »
People continue to believe in that garbage because they want there to be a heaven with golden streets. They want to believe there is a life after this. Unfortunately we are the only species truly created to use logic and reasoning with good or evil. Well ... it's been created to falsify those hopes, get millions of dollars from those stupid enough to fall for it, and waste the money on a basketball court for the kids, maybe hand out 2% of it to local charities or their missions ... speaking of which, I'll add to your list, which pretty much already nailed all of the problems I've had with the Bible growing up (especially the telephone one; funny I've used the same example with friends of mine!):

-If God's MISSION is to save us all from our sins, how are the "unsaved" supposed to know about him? If God gave us free will and knows everything, then he knows who will go to hell, but it's "OK" because it's part of "God's plan?" Get real! If there is a god that created us with individuality and free will, but ultimately knows who will go to heaven or hell, he's a freaking sick bastard!
-Think of all the women that abort their unwanted children every year. 42 million worldwide are aborted each year (caught from http://www.abortionno.org/Resources/fastfacts.html) ... 42 ... million ... how can a god allow that??? How can that possibly be all part of "God's plan?"
-Jesus going into the temple (Mark 11:15-19) and tipping over tables and angrily telling people to basically get the F out ... if you are the SON OF GOD and your MISSION is to save people, wouldn't you give them all a reality check in a nice calm manner instead of childishly and immaturely tossing tables and crying like a little baby over it? With someone like an outrage like that, you can see why the Romans wanted him dead!
-The miracles ... turning water into wine, or turning 5 loaves and 2 fish into enough to feed 5,000 ... SHOW ME THIS SORCERY! I know I can turn water into coffee with an instant coffee pack, but this is unbelievable!

To sum it up, I would LOVE to believe in life after death, and all of this stuff concerning Jesus, but it's just as false and fake as any other religion ... it's all used to control people.

I've been a Christian for 20 years but this is it. My fiancee finds it hard to believe that I no longer believe in something that I was recently "100%" sure about, but when I took the time to read the Bible from an unbiased nonbeliever's perspective, like you said with Genesis, it all just fell apart in my hands! The snake that tells Eve to eat the fruit ... SNAKES CAN'T TALK!
« Last Edit: August 15, 2012, 10:21:25 AM by willwgp86 »

Offline Garja

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Re: Mental Gymnastics
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2012, 10:23:27 AM »
I feel ya. My moment came when I was hearing a preacher talk about the virgin birth. I thought "you mean to tell me that a girl in a society that felt it was fully just to STONE YOU TO DEATH ON YOUR PARENTS FRONT PORCH for having premarital sex had no reason to make crap up?!?!
"If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution."

-Benjamin Franklin

Offline willwgp86

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Re: Mental Gymnastics
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2012, 10:35:04 AM »
Joseph: "I can't explain it! I've never been with her!"
Mary: "Yeah!!! It's a ... virgin pregnancy, that's it!"

Just something really silly and made up by a friend of theirs, they could keep the lie going for a while knowing it would be okay because it was promised by the elders to happen, somehow ...  &)

Offline DVZ3

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Re: Mental Gymnastics
« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2012, 11:54:52 AM »

All time favs from George Carlin.

Hguols: "Its easier for me to believe that a God created everything...."

Offline Nam

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Re: Mental Gymnastics
« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2012, 06:31:11 PM »
I find, my opinion, that most people cling to the things they already believe in. Such as: if they are against abortion, or feel women should be submissive, or certain people should die because of how they live different to how they live, against homosexuality, etc., they cling to the religion that represents their ideals. Or, they purely do it out of some fear of something, usually not the deity of the religion but more over the things in their life.

Those that come here are usually grounded in their beliefs. They don't question it. They have a wall up, and nothing we say or do will break through to them. Others that come, are already questioning their beliefs and looking for support and/or validation.

-Nam
« Last Edit: August 15, 2012, 06:33:46 PM by Nam »
This thread is about lab-grown dicks, not some mincy, old, British poof of an actor. 

Let's get back on topic, please.


Offline Nam

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Re: Mental Gymnastics
« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2012, 06:40:33 PM »
I feel ya. My moment came when I was hearing a preacher talk about the virgin birth. I thought "you mean to tell me that a girl in a society that felt it was fully just to STONE YOU TO DEATH ON YOUR PARENTS FRONT PORCH for having premarital sex had no reason to make crap up?!?!

What did it for me was all the hatred the bible espoused yet at the same time preaching love and peace? Who was the love and peace for?

-Nam
This thread is about lab-grown dicks, not some mincy, old, British poof of an actor. 

Let's get back on topic, please.


Offline Garja

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Re: Mental Gymnastics
« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2012, 08:53:53 PM »
I understand trying to hold on to deeply held beliefs, but I cant do that in face of starkly contrasting facts, my mind isn't wired that way... guess thats a good thing.
"If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution."

-Benjamin Franklin

Offline The Wannabe

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Re: Mental Gymnastics
« Reply #12 on: August 15, 2012, 09:47:26 PM »
A Christian friend of mine once told me, as soon as faith in God is established, nothing is impossible.  When you think about it, everything becomes miraculous once a personal and active deity is conjured up in the mind of the believer.

God sustains the universe, a physical resurrection from the dead is utter child's play in comparison.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2012, 11:24:39 PM by The Wannabe »
"I would believe only in a God that knows how to Dance."  -Friedrich Nietzsche

Offline Brakeman

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Re: Mental Gymnastics
« Reply #13 on: August 15, 2012, 09:51:27 PM »
When I read garja's question I was reminded how Americans steadfastly prefer dry toilet paper over a wet wash with a modern electronic bidet. Generally most Americans will laugh and deride mentions of using them even though there is no scientific or even anecdotal evidence that dry paper is more hygienic. We have our customs and we conscientiously avoid enlightenment. We feel good in continuing what we learned as small children. We don't like to change our customs. Some people love the custom of christianity and some take that custom to fanatical limits, ignoring all reason.
Help find the cure for FUNDAMENTIA !

Offline Truth Junkie

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Re: Mental Gymnastics
« Reply #14 on: August 16, 2012, 05:54:54 AM »

http://www.thereligiouscondition.com/e1.html

Quote
That is what it is all about. How can educated people believe in fairies?

Cognitive Dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance is a discomfort caused by holding conflicting cognitions (e.g., ideas, beliefs, values, emotional reactions) simultaneously. In a state of dissonance, people may feel surprise, dread, guilt, anger, or embarrassment. The theory of cognitive dissonance in social psychology proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance by altering existing cognitions, adding new ones to create a consistent belief system, or alternatively by reducing the importance of any one of the dissonant elements.

How to Reduce Cognitive Dissonance

There are three key strategies to reduce or minimize cognitive dissonance:
 •Focus on more supportive beliefs that outweigh the dissonant belief or behavior.
 •Reduce the importance of the conflicting belief.
 •Change the conflicting belief so that it is consistent with other beliefs or behaviors.


Cognitive dissonance has been called "the mind controller's best friend" (Levine 2003: 202). Yet, a cursory examination of cognitive dissonance reveals that it is not the dissonance, but how people deal with it, that would be of interest to someone trying to control others when the evidence seems against them.


I believe fear of death is at the root of religion and that keeps people from dealing with the reality
that god couldn't exist because where would that leave them but alone and simply gone without anything
to look forward to and no real reason to behave morally or with a conscience.


Quote
I understand trying to hold on to deeply held beliefs, but I cant do that in face of starkly contrasting facts, my mind isn't wired that way... guess thats a good thing.

I feel the same way and I think the difference might be that I question all alleged authority and don't comprehend "blind faith" in something unproveable.Call me crazy or pray for me if you must,but the truth is,I feel sorry for YOU who don't even realize that your irrational fears of death are what keep you trapped within your cognitive dissonance.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2012, 06:05:01 AM by Truth Junkie »

Offline Garja

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Re: Mental Gymnastics
« Reply #15 on: August 16, 2012, 07:48:05 AM »
Oh man. You hit on one of my favorite topics in bringing up CD. Wayne. Ounselinf felons that was the go-to tool to get them to understand the impact that their actions had on those around them. CD is on powerful mofo in the human brain.  It certainly explains to me my relatively fast deconversion a few mos. ago. Two strong bigs could not occupy the same brain when they are diametrically opposed.
"If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution."

-Benjamin Franklin

Offline Garja

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Re: Mental Gymnastics
« Reply #16 on: August 16, 2012, 02:55:02 PM »
Oh man. You hit on one of my favorite topics in bringing up CD. When I worked with juvenile felons that was the go-to tool to get them to understand the impact that their actions had on those around them. CD is on powerful mofo in the human brain.  It certainly explains to me my relatively fast deconversion a few mos. ago. Two strong beliefs could not occupy the same brain when they are diametrically opposed.

Holy crap did trying to type on an iphone not work that time.
"If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution."

-Benjamin Franklin

Offline natlegend

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Re: Mental Gymnastics
« Reply #17 on: August 16, 2012, 10:12:43 PM »
Holy crap did trying to type on an iphone not work that time.

LOL  ;D

Yoda: "Typing iPhone on work well not."
You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Offline Mooby

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Re: Mental Gymnastics
« Reply #18 on: August 19, 2012, 09:53:24 PM »
I am curious how someone can seemingly take in all the information available on this site and around the internet and continue to believe in God after looking at all the evidence and lack thereof.
Because it's not that simple.

First off, the Internet isn't exactly the best source of unbiased material.  Even generally trustworthy sites, such as Wikipedia, still tend to write in a voice that slants viewpoints towards the authors' views.  And that's on the high end of reliability: sites like this are, by design, so obviously biased that it's downright irresponsible to read them without a very critical eye.  So it's simply not enough to say, "Here's a site; how can you disagree with me?"  If humans worked that way, we'd be changing our minds constantly, as there's a site out there to argue for nearly every viewpoint imaginable.

Secondly, I'm not quite sure what you mean by "all the evidence."  If you mean evidence against God, then my answer is simple: I have not seen any such evidence.  As for "lack thereof," I'm not sure how one looks at a lack of evidence.  After all, if the evidence is lacking, then there can't actually be a thing to look at.  I don't see how one could do much other than claim the evidence is lacking and wait to see if it's contested.

In short, I haven't achieved the above because I haven't found an unbiased source of information that has presented evidence against God that would convince me He doesn't exist.

Quote
-Gospels of Jesus written between 30 and 40 years AFTER HE DIED.  This means they were stories told orally for years before they wrote it down (ever played telephone?)
Yes, I have played Telephone.  It is a fun exercise to play among children, as the game is designed to break down the code as quickly as possible via meaningless starting sentences, participants with still developing memory skills, full participation required, single transmission, fast pacing, whispers, giggling, and blocking all attempts at redundancy, clarification, or error correction.  In essence, it is set up to be the exact opposite of how information is transmitted in an oral culture.
"I'm doing science and I'm still alive."--J.C.

Offline Garja

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Re: Mental Gymnastics
« Reply #19 on: August 19, 2012, 10:18:25 PM »
Secondly, I'm not quite sure what you mean by "all the evidence."  If you mean evidence against God, then my answer is simple: I have not seen any such evidence.  As for "lack thereof," I'm not sure how one looks at a lack of evidence.  After all, if the evidence is lacking, then there can't actually be a thing to look at.  I don't see how one could do much other than claim the evidence is lacking and wait to see if it's contested.

Word games Mooby?

You know damn well what I mean by lack of evidence so dont play that crap.  I would say that either a. God does not exist, or b. God created mankind with the ability to logically examine evidence, and intentionally hides his presence.

-and I will certainly give you that the internet is full of worthless crap, but thats why we has human beings have to be able to look at information, look for facts as supported by evidence, and come to conclusions based on available information.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2012, 10:21:33 PM by Garja »
"If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution."

-Benjamin Franklin

Offline LoriPinkAngel

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Re: Mental Gymnastics
« Reply #20 on: August 19, 2012, 11:11:55 PM »
The problem with demands to justify belief in God is that belief requires faith.  And faith requires some element of the unseen.  So there can be no proof beyond  a reasonable doubt because that would eliminate any need for faith.  Does it make sense? No, maybe not.  But you don't have to believe if you choose not to. I'm not one of those "believe what I believe or go to hell" types. 
It doesn't make sense to let go of something you've had for so long.  But it also doesn't make sense to hold on when there's actually nothing there.

Offline natlegend

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Re: Mental Gymnastics
« Reply #21 on: August 20, 2012, 12:55:52 AM »
But you don't have to believe if you choose not to.

But I don't choose to not believe in a god... once you were older and more informed, and realised that the evidence was lacking, did you 'choose' to no longer believe in Santa?
You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Offline Garja

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Re: Mental Gymnastics
« Reply #22 on: August 20, 2012, 10:21:55 AM »
Lori, my problem isn't having SOME faith. I can deal with the idea of a god that doesn't want to shoot his existence from the rooftops... Why he would do that, I have no clue, but I'll give that one up. What I can't take is a god who would expect us to totally abandon science and logical deductive reasoning in order to believe. It makes no sense for a loving god who care for all and WANTS TO BE BELIEVED IN to make it so logic points to his non-existence.
"If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution."

-Benjamin Franklin

Offline Brakeman

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Re: Mental Gymnastics
« Reply #23 on: August 20, 2012, 11:22:19 AM »
But you don't have to believe if you choose not to. I'm not one of those "believe what I believe or go to hell" types.

Assuming you are married, do you have "faith" that your husband isn't cheating on you? If you do have this faith, would it remain staunch and unmoving if you find lipstick on all his shirts, you find panties that aren't yours in his pants pockets, and all of your friends that have seen his out say that he's cheating? How much evidence would it take to sway your "Faith" that your husband if true to you?
Even if you chose to ignore the evidence and daily declare your husbands fidelity, deep inside you would feel hurt and anger over the evidence that you see. The lipstick and the panties would make you cry.
Religious faith is the same way, theists want their story to be true so badly, they will make excuse after excuse for the counter evidence, but they will avoid facing the evidence it's self because it makes them uncomfortable, and that uncomfort it the key to their true honest feelings.

Just as the tears rolling down a cheated woman's face belie her true feelings and inner thoughts, a theists avoidance of the counter evidence of their beliefs belie their true inner thoughts as well.

Secondly how can you not be a believe what I believe or you're going to hell? Are you not certain why the bible says about who goes to hell and who doesn't? How could you not know? And if you know, how can you resist both jesus' command of the great commission and the "knowledge" that someone will be tortured horribly for all eternity if they don't get it right. Are you so callous as to not to care about others? (Unless of course you are a closet atheist and you know deep down that it's not real.)
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Offline LoriPinkAngel

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Re: Mental Gymnastics
« Reply #24 on: August 22, 2012, 11:04:29 PM »
I have not abandoned this thread but I it's too much of a pain typing responses on my Nook.  Will reply when I have a real keyboard.
It doesn't make sense to let go of something you've had for so long.  But it also doesn't make sense to hold on when there's actually nothing there.

Offline Garja

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Re: Mental Gymnastics
« Reply #25 on: August 23, 2012, 05:58:10 AM »
No worries Lori.
"If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution."

-Benjamin Franklin

Offline Brakeman

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Re: Mental Gymnastics
« Reply #26 on: August 23, 2012, 06:02:35 AM »
I have "faith" she'll be back.. :laugh:
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Offline Energized

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Re: Mental Gymnastics
« Reply #27 on: August 24, 2012, 06:58:41 PM »

Because it's not that simple.

First off, the Internet isn't exactly the best source of unbiased material.  Even generally trustworthy sites, such as Wikipedia, still tend to write in a voice that slants viewpoints towards the authors' views.  And that's on the high end of reliability: sites like this are, by design, so obviously biased that it's downright irresponsible to read them without a very critical eye.  So it's simply not enough to say, "Here's a site; how can you disagree with me?"  If humans worked that way, we'd be changing our minds constantly, as there's a site out there to argue for nearly every viewpoint imaginable.

Secondly, I'm not quite sure what you mean by "all the evidence."  If you mean evidence against God, then my answer is simple: I have not seen any such evidence.  As for "lack thereof," I'm not sure how one looks at a lack of evidence.  After all, if the evidence is lacking, then there can't actually be a thing to look at.  I don't see how one could do much other than claim the evidence is lacking and wait to see if it's contested.

In short, I haven't achieved the above because I haven't found an unbiased source of information that has presented evidence against God that would convince me He doesn't exist.

Quote
-Gospels of Jesus written between 30 and 40 years AFTER HE DIED.  This means they were stories told orally for years before they wrote it down (ever played telephone?)
Yes, I have played Telephone.  It is a fun exercise to play among children, as the game is designed to break down the code as quickly as possible via meaningless starting sentences, participants with still developing memory skills, full participation required, single transmission, fast pacing, whispers, giggling, and blocking all attempts at redundancy, clarification, or error correction.  In essence, it is set up to be the exact opposite of how information is transmitted in an oral culture.

Actually, it is that simple.

Everything that Christians deem a miracle has an explanation, though it may not be known yet. One of the biggest ones we have right now is how everything began. I feel like a broken record in saying this, but scientific advancement in the last 100 years has destroyed what was considered of god or a miracle. And that's been a challenge because your religion's adherents persecuted those who wanted to find out how things worked, even if it meant contradicting the bible. Given time, the answers will come, and I dare say we won't be seeing any evidence of a creator behind any of it.

An unbiased source? Please. Considering most Christians argue from emotion, an unbiased source will never be found in your eyes. Strawman after strawman gets tossed into the mix. To what end? Are you that desperate to cling to such nonsense when reality is slapping you in the face?

When it comes to facts, no amount of bias should be required to demonstrate the truth of any situation.

Finally, stories passed on ARE going to change. Oral culture, my ass. It's human nature to put your own spin on what you experience. Case in point:

Christians always tell us that the first four gospels don't contradict each other because they are being told by different people with different points of view. How is it that an "oral culture" could write 4 different accounts of the same supposed event?

I guess I am not athletic enough to reach the parallel bars to figure that one out.

E.
'O pitiful shadow lost in the darkness,
Bringing torment and pain to others.
O damned soul wallowing in your sin.
Perhaps it is time to die?'

~Enma Ai, Jigoku Shoujo

Offline Garja

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Re: Mental Gymnastics
« Reply #28 on: August 24, 2012, 09:12:38 PM »
^ Exactly.  I was telling a story to a room full of HS sophomores today and I added a little embellishment to make a better story, its human. (No, it was not in the subject area, it was a story that was parallel, but it was in my life, not a historical figure/event)
"If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution."

-Benjamin Franklin